Relationships Among Caregiving, Income, Gender, and Health: A Cross-Sectional Examination of a Representative Sample of Older Americans

ABSTRACTAlthough there is substantial evidence to support the effect of burden on caregivers, few studies have compared caregivers to their noncaregiving counterparts on the basis of health and well-being outcomes. This study examines the relationship between caregiving and health and whether other factors may have stronger influence on well-being measures. Using a nationally representative sample of older adults in the United States (N = 3,005), this study examines relationships between caregiving status, gender, and income, and 9 outcomes (self-rated physical and mental health, time since seeing a doctor, time since most recent pap smear or prostate-specific antigen [PSA] test, depression, loneliness, stress, anxiety), using logistic and linear regression models. Results support that paradoxically, caregiving was associated with increased likelihood of PSA test in male caregivers, although data also indicated higher levels of anxiety and stress, as might be expected. Income was associated with 8 of 9 outcomes, and gender predicted depression, anxiety, stress, and self-rated mental health. The study highlighted the importance of psychosocial stressors, such as income and gender, on the health outcomes of older adults who may be caregiving. Considering complexity of unique experience is necessary to accurately assess vulnerability to poor mental health or health-related outcomes.